Articles Comments

The Beer Circle » Beer, Imperial IPA, Monk's Cafe, Russian River Brewing Co. » Russian River Pliny the Younger vs. Pliny the Elder

Russian River Pliny the Younger vs. Pliny the Elder

Pliny the Elder (right) and Pliny the Younger (left)

I made the venture to Philadelphia from Harrisburg for Monk’s Cafe’s Pliny the Younger event. This was the second year in a row that I have attended, and with proceeds benefiting Alex’s Lemonade Stand, it’s one of the better beer related fundraisers. I arrived at 9:00 AM with a group of friends, and that placed us third in line. Knowing that Monk’s had a half keg this year rather than the normal sixtel, we weren’t worried about getting there early for the beer, but concerned about getting a table.

Once the doors opened at 11:30, the line files inside to meet Tom Peters, the owner, with a bucket waiting for you to place your $15 donation inside of it in exchange for a free glass of Russian River Pliny the Younger. Have a twenty dollar bill and expect change? Forget about it. Tom firmly reminds you that the event is for charity, so that return five dollar bill is not going to make its way to you, but to a much more needed entity. Tom’s goal was to raise $10,000 this year with the half keg and associated raffles. Due to the increased amount of beer flowing through the taps, I was fortunate enough to secure a second glass at the same time I ordered a glass of Russian River’s other famed hop nirvana, Pliny the Elder.

Pliny the Younger
The beer pours a golden color with a foamy white head. The head doesn’t linger for a very long time, but long enough to be appreciated. A few few laces cling on to the sides of the glass as it dissipates.
The aroma consists of tangerine, passion fruit, and grapefruit with some pine and spruce accents. Hop oils infect the nose and are retained throughout the experience. Everything about this aroma screams fresh, and the hops literally leap out of the glass. I would want heaven to smell like this beer.
The taste is full of citrus flavors, mostly grapefruit and tangerine, with a nice pepper and pine hop finish. It has a wonderful bitter flavor, and the hop oils will not go down without a fight. The linger and hang to the tongue, making for a wonderfully bitter and citrus flavor from start to finish.
The mouth feel is light and crisp with the perfect balance of liquid and carbonation. The bubbles also help push the hop aromas back in to the nose, creating a wonderful cycle of smelling and drinking. As far as drinkability, as long as you are a hop head, this beer will satisfy your every craving. However, I found that it could be appealing to those who don't love hops as well, so this could be an all-around winner for beer lovers.
I can’t judge this category on the price I paid for the beer, as the $15 ($20 without change) was 100% for charity and not a measure of its actual cost. I’ve seen that it retails for about $4.50 at the brewery, and I would label that as being the exact price that I would pay for several of these in a day, every day.
Pliny the Younger definitely lives up to the hype, and that is evidenced that it was the third year in a row a made the trek to Philadelphia to drink it. My first year was at TJ’s, and the most recent two years were at Monk’s. The hop oils are the defining character of this beer, and they linger well beyond the last sip.If I was marooned on an island, I would hope that the fridge that I assume will be there as well is stocked with growlers of this beer.

Beer Stats
Style: Imperial IPA
Serving: Draft
Size: 5oz
ABV: 11.00%
BA Score: 100
RB Score: 100
Pliny the Elder
The beer, like Pliny the Younger, also pours a golden color with a thin filmy head. The head is foamy and white and has a pretty solid retention rate. There isn't much lacing with the Elder, but that's not necessary to make or break the beer.
The beer smells of orange, tangerine, and grapefruit. Hop oils are also very present, bringing along pine and spruce to the nostrils, which will make them tingle.
The taste is powerful and citrusy with a good pepper and pine finish. As with the Younger, those taste comprise of tangerine, passion fruit, and grapefruit. The finish dries out the mouth with all of the hop oils and their sticky, resiny, pine and spruce flavor.
For someone who loves hops, this beer is very easily drinkable. The mouth feel has the perfect amount of carbonation that makes it easy to go down, but also releases the full impact of the hops. The only problem that would occur with drinkability is that I think this beer could exhaust the palate rather rapidly with its constant hop oil assault.
At $7.00 for a pint of the beer, it’s still a great bargain. I’m sure it could be cheaper, but you are paying for hop extremes and freshness.
Most of the time when I see this beer on tap, I order it. That’s the bottom line here. Sure, when I go to bars there are plenty of new beers to try, but this is one I can continually come back to and completely enjoy. It’s almost like ordering dessert after a meal; you never need it, but you are never disappointed when you have it.

Beer Stats
Style: Imperial IPA
Serving: Draft
Size: 16oz
ABV: 8.00%
BA Score: 100
RB Score: 100


To compare these family members is difficult as they are both top notch beers, but it is a necessity for this post. They pour close in color, but the Younger is slightly lighter in its golden hues and easier to see through. From the looks, it would be like debating which of two twins to ask on a date to prom; subtle difference, but mostly the same. The aroma of the Younger is what sets it apart from its uncle, as it has a fresher smell with tangerine really packing the punch. While the Elder aroma is still top notch and can stand against most, if not all, other beers, the Younger wins but a horses nose in a photo finish. On the tongue, the Younger has more hop oils that engulf it and is slightly more bitter on the finish. While the uncle may be older and wiser, in this family battle, the Younger wins by the narrowest of margins.

Last updated by at .

Written by Jeff Kupko

Jeff is a traffic engineer that loves his beer, and especially loves trying new beer. As a student at the University of Pittsburgh, Yuengling was a staple and the beginnings of liking something better than fizzy yellow water. This has evolved into an entire hobby, with Jeff keeping a blog of all of the beers he tries. Vacations most certainly involve at least one brewery or bottle shop visit to gather a region’s coveted fruits. Now, Jeff has ventured into homebrewing, and there is probably no saving him from being engulfed entirely by beer. While Imperial Stouts and IPAs rank highest in Jeff’s eyes, sours are sneaking up on those styles, and Jeff loves to try all different styles. Find Jeff Kupko on Google Plus

Filed under: Beer, Imperial IPA, Monk's Cafe, Russian River Brewing Co. · Tags: , , ,